Atlas Reactor is my kind of competitive game. For one, you don’t need crazy APM or ridiculous reflexes. You just need to be good at thinking on your feet and you have to have a strategic state of mind that you can tap into. Trion Worlds’ new turn-based tactical team combat game looks and plays excellently, and the Bay Area team is ready to let the masses try it out…
If you’re not familiar with Atlas Reactor from our previous coverage, check out the video below. AR is a turn-based and team-based tactical combat game. There are some games out there that bear a resemblance to Atlas Reactor (Frozen Synapse being one, or XCOM being another), but really AR is kind of in a class all its own. The second project (after Trove) to come out of the experimentation lab at Trion Worlds, Atlas Reactor is all about competition. And come February 18th, invitees will be able to get a taste of the game during a special closed alpha sneak peek to see if it’s something you enjoy.
Anyone who wins a match during the alpha event will unlock a permanent character for when the game goes live. Winning three matches in a row will unlock a style on that character permanently too (styles being like “skins” in other games. They’ll be changing the roster up every day, testing the way the free rotation works, and giving away tons of free game currency to test the store as well.
One of the first things players will notice is the new front end UI for character select and match-type picking. Everything’s been overhauled not only to make things sleeker, but to make it quick and easy to get into the match queue. It looks reminiscent of Street Fighter, to be honest. Only quick matches will be available during the alpha, but drafts, bans, ranked, and so forth will all come at later testing dates.
There are loads of styles, colors, and different ways to customize your favorite characters. There were 9 in alpha before, and the team’s ratcheted it up to 14 now with Rampart being one of the new folks – a tanky shield-wall wielding robotic knight. He’s a frontline character, and there are two other types of characters – the straight damage dealers and the supports. You could say the trinity is alive and well in Atlas Reactor.
Matches will be 4v4 during the alpha, and the map is a new one. It’s more intimate than the previous cargo ship map, with walls of flowing water floating high above the city. It looks a lot like Blade Runner, a sort of beautiful but dystopian futuristic landscape. The first team to 5 kills or the team with the highest score after 20 turns will win the match.
Also new to the alpha is the Mod System – this allows you to modify your character’s abilities. They are chosen after you see the enemy team, but before the first turn. This way you can see who the other folks are fighting with, and sort of predict who or what they might bring into the battle. If they’ve got a lot of ranged or mobile characters, you might want to choose mods that shut down that mobility and so on. Mods cost 1-3 points per level and each skill on a character can only equip one mod. You can only spend up to 10 points, so you can either spread the love or seriously overpower one specific skill with a big mod.
There’s a brand new tutorial now too, with full VO, a real environment, and it’s a whole lot more fun to play through. There’s now video playback in the UI itself, meaning you can watch characters and their abilities before playing. They’ve also added the first steps of progression – XP and levels unlock rewards, banners, character styles, prestige cosmetics, and more. None of the progression effects the competitive layer, it’s all just about showing off how much or how well you play a character.
Grouping has also made it in this phase, so it’s no long just random match-making. You can grab friends, party up, and go to town. Clans and guilds are on the radar as well, but Trion is most looking for feedback on what sort of social systems are wanted and what they should include.
Daily contracts are the game’s “quests” and completing them will net you different additional rewards daily. They incentivize trying lots of characters, playing different ways, or playing different match types. The goal is to have the rewards get people to experiment and see the full game.
Boosts, one Atlas Reactor’s main forms of cash transaction (since the game will be F2P) are in for testing as well. Since everyone will be given some currency to spend, the team is hoping people love toying with Boosts. They have a twist, you see – if you use one on a match, sure you get a boost to XP gain, but so does everyone else on the team. If someone else also uses one, it stacks. If your whole team does, even bigger. If all 8 players across all teams do, it’s an even bigger boost for everyone. You can use the boost at any time during a match, and the idea is to let everyone share in the rewards received from using them. There’s no specific cost tied to them yet, but Trion assured us they’ll be cheap, because they wany people using them a lot and enjoying the bonuses received from their use. Additionally, you’ll get plenty through completing contracts and progression rewards too.
The folks behind Atlas Reactor obviously have a lot of passion for the game, and it shows through all over the art, UI, and character of each fighter. This may very well be the most soulful Trion game yet, as it really feels like everyone involved wants to build and design the world and its characters. Turn-based team combat may seem like something strange and foreign, but I’d urge you to sign up to try the game when it hits the invitational alpha event on the 18th. Like Trove before it, it’s clear the house that Rift built has more than a few surprises up its sleeve.